By GABRIEL GOODWIN
Sunday Times Newspapers
MELVINDALE — The City Council passed a 12 percent water rate increase for city residents Monday.
The city has been subsidizing the 4.4 percent rate increase imposed by the city of Detroit since July 1, but because of cancelled meetings, the city’s hands were tied.
The last two meetings lacked a quorum to proceed with any voting after absenses of three councilors – Carl Louvet, Medina Balderas and Kalley Hess – and Mayor Stacey Striz July 17, and three councilors – Louvet, Wheeler Marsee and Nicole Barnes – walking out of the Aug. 7 meeting.
The council rescheduled its last meeting for Aug. 12 and had the quorum to vote. The 12 percent increase was approved by the council with a 5-1 vote with Councilman Daniel Cybulski dissenting. He said the increase was too much to impose on the residents and believed an increase of 10 percent was “more than fair.”
It was the recommendation of both the accounting firm Plante Moran and Gerald Douyard, primary operator of the Water Department, to approve a rate much higher than the 4.4 percent. Plante Moran’s recommendation said a 16 percent increase should be implemented by the city, but Douyard said the city could achieve its goals with the 12 percent increase.
The city’s water fund currently has no money set aside for capital improvements, Douyard said, and the additional 7.6 percent would set aside money for that. He said a positive balance in a capital improvement program is essential moving forward because the city’s infrastructure is deteriorating, noting the storm system and sewer system backups, water mains collapsing, and the increased scrutiny of the Department of Environmental Quality.
The estimated costs to a resident would be $10.42 a quarter, or $41.68 a year.
(Gabriel Goodwin can be reached at [email protected])